The reason i’m sharing this birthday carrot cake is because it’s my birthday on Tuesday (24th September) and I will be turning 49. I realise that my youthful good looks, great hair and fabulous body belay this fact but sadly, dear reader, it is true. Actually I don’t know why this fact should be sad? Age is wonderful. Yes it comes with its issues but if anything over the last year has taught me, we should all genuinely be grateful to be alive and try and live our lives to the fullest.
It seems to be an age since i’ve baked a cake for the blog and if I needed an excuse my birthday is the perfect one. As many regular readers will know, it’s also The Vikings birthday on the same day. Yes, we are birthday buddies. No it’s not the best thing ever. (I’ll leave it at that.) Cakes are a funny thing. Most people love them. I have my favourites (i much prefer a simple Victoria Sponge to anything too fancy) and The Viking is pretty indifferent but when I do bake a cake this cake is the one he seems to like the most. I think he thinks that because it has carrots in it it makes it healthy… and who am I to break the news to him and shatter the dream?
This is my favourite carrot cake. It’s totally and utterly borrowed from the incredible Delia Smith. It’s what she calls her Ultimate Carrot Cake and it really is that. I’ve been making it in different forms over the years as it also works really well as muffins and these really cute ‘sandwiches’ but the classic 2 layered cake is perfect for a celebratory moment. I also love a cake that can be kept in the fridge, in fact tastes better if served cold and this carrot cake is perfect for that. I think it’s all the wonderful nutty ingredients that make it so perfect and the added coconut is, in my opinion, genius. I’ve mixed it up slightly by replacing some of the self-raising flour with ground almonds which I think make it even more joyous.
- 175g dark brown soft sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 150ml sunflower oil
- 150g wholemeal self-raising flour
- 50g ground almonds
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 200g carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
- grated zest of 1 orange
- 110g sultanas
- 50g desiccated coconut
- 50g toasted pecan nuts, chopped
- 1 x 250g tubs mascarpone
- 1 x 250g tub of cream cheese
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 juice of a lemon
- 1/2 juice of an orange
- 1 rounded tablespoon golden caster sugar
- 50g chopped toasted pecan nuts
- 75g dark brown soft sugar
- juice of 1 small orange
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC and grease and line 2 cake tins. I’m using my favourite little tall sandwich tins which are 17cm but taller than average and make a cute cake but 2 x 20cm sponge tins will work perfectly.
Once the oven is up to speed spread the pecans out on a tray and pop them into the oven for 8 minutes (absolutely no longer, you really don’t want burnt nuts (!!)
Next, onto the cake – place the sugar, eggs and oil in a bowl and whisk them together for 2–3 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. (I’m using my smeg stand mixer with the whisk attachment but an electric hand whisk and a large bowl would work just as well.)
Sift the flour, spice and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl – the little bits of bran left in the sieve can be tipped in at the end and fold all this in gently. (I change the attachment to the cake batter paddle and put it to the lowest setting. Once that is evenly combined, add the rest of the cake ingredients and gently fold in.
Divide the mixture evenly between your two cake tins and level them off with the back of a tablespoon. Bake the cakes near the centre of the oven for 30 minutes until they are springy and firm in the centre.
Whilst the cakes are in the oven make the the syrup glaze by simply whisking together the sugar and fruit juices. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, first stab them all over with a skewer and then spoon the syrup evenly over the hot cakes. After that they need to cool in their tins in order to soak up all of the syrup.
Make the icing by whisking the mascarpone, cream cheese cinnamon, juice and sugar in a bowl till smooth and fluffy. Then cover the bowl and chill until needed.
As soon as the cakes are completely cold remove them from the tins. Place one of the cakes on a serving plate, spread one third of the icing all over, then place the other cake on top and finally cover the top and sides with the remaining mixture.
Eat and of course, enjoy!